On December 15th of 1980, Melanie Uribe was abducted by two men in a truck on her way to work. Witnesses who saw her abduction were the last people to see her alive other than her killers and a psychic by the name of Etta Smith.
Melanie Uribe worked as a nurse at Pacoima Hospital in Burbank, California. By all accounts, she was punctual and reliable. She was a single mother, bringing up an eight year old boy. When her coworkers called her home and got no answer, they were immediately concerned. The disappearance of Melanie Uribe was front page news.
Etta Smith worked as a shipping clerk for the giant Lockheed aerospace plant, holding a very respectable job at the time. On December 17th, while listening to a story about Melanie Uribe’s disappearance, Smith was overcome with a vision of her location.
She described a winding road that led to a canyon, shrubbery, hills and then to something white. She did not know the exact location of the body but could feel how it had gotten there. Smith left work immediately and went to the police to report at the Foothill Division to tell them what she saw. She was not certain if Melanie was still alive or not and urgently demanded that police look into the case.
The local police were not accustomed to working with psychics and were skeptical of Smith’s story but, noting her security clearance and career, thought they should check into it.
Fearing that the police would take too long to get there, Smith was in Lopez Canyon above Lake View Terrace within 45 minutes. As she approached the location with her niece and two young daughters, she was overcome by a feeling of trauma.
Smith’s daughter noticed Melanie’s white nursing shoes underneath a bush. An autopsy would reveal that she had been beaten, stripped naked, raped and died of blunt force trauma to the head. She had also been robbed.
Smith was subsequently arrested for the murder of Melanie Uribe and held barefoot in a cell for 24 hours without food or water. Detectives were certain she would break and admit to the murder since they could not explain her precise knowledge of the location of the body.
The real killers, a 17 year old by the name of Louis Carnell Morgan and Spencer Nelson, who were driving the truck witnesses reported seeing, had been bragging about the killing and word got out that they were the real killers. Both men confessed to the murder after they were arrested and Etta was subsequently released on the 21st of December.
Smith does not claim to be a psychic. She described her “vision” as a “powerfully unusual experience”. Following her mistreatment by police, she won a civil lawsuit against the department and was awarded compensation.